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Navratilova thinks she'll be back

| Thursday, July 4, 2002

WIMBLEDON, England — Martina Navratilova, who has played more matches than anyone at Wimbledon, doesn't think she's finished yet.

"Next year, I don't know," the 45-year-old Navratilova said after her third-round loss in mixed doubles Wednesday. "Might as well flip a coin. Probably. You know, chances are, yeah."

Navratilova, teamed with Australian doubles expert Todd Woodbridge, lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to Jonas Bjorkman and Anna Kournikova in a rain-affected match.

"I thought I played pretty well," Navratilova said. "We certainly didn't deserve to lose 6-2 in the third. If you do everything you possibly can to win, and you still lose, there's nothing to hang your head about."

Adding the two matches she and Natasha Zvereva played in the women's doubles before being knocked out, Navratilova has played 293 matches.

The total for the nine-time singles champion puts her ahead of nearest rival Billie Jean King with 265 matches. The men's record is held by France's Jean Borotra, who played in 223 matches starting in the 1920s.

Navratilova says she feels fitter now than when she was in her 30s.

"Physically, I feel better than I did about 12 years ago," she said. "Physically, certainly the body — I feel like I could keep going like this for a long while.

"I need to see some results pretty soon. Again, we played well enough to win, we didn't. I haven't done as well, I feel, as I'm playing. But I'll keep going for the rest of the year and see what happens."

In May, Navratilova became the oldest woman to win a title following her victory in doubles at the Spanish Open with Zvereva.

She then entered the Wimbledon tuneup event at Eastbourne on a bet with her trainer, and won her first singles match in eight years in beating No. 22-ranked Tatiana Panova. She was beaten in the second round by Daniela Hantuchova.

Woodbridge, who won 61 doubles titles — including seven at Wimbledon — with fellow Australian Mark Woodforde, was asked by Navratilova at the French Open to team up at Wimbledon.

"At 45, she was training probably harder than 70 percent of the women on the tour," Woodbridge said. "For me, that's like 'Wow, this is amazing that this lady has this much inspiration and goal to continue to train that hard at that age'.

"She still has the drive and the motivation to do well. Usually, if a champion asks you to play, it's hard to knock that back."

Navratilova won 167 singles and 166 doubles titles in her career, including three Australian Opens, two French Opens and four U.S Opens.

The Czech-born U.S citizen came out of retirement in 2000 to play doubles.

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